Dates set for DP World ILT20 season 2 across the UAE

International League T20 saw the Gulf Giants emerge victorious over the Desert Vipers by seven wickets in Dubai. (Twitter: @ILT20Official)
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Updated 24 August 2023

Dates set for DP World ILT20 season 2 across the UAE

  • The 34-match extravaganza to be staged at venues in Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah

DUBAI: The second season of the DP World ILT20, the biggest contest of its kind in the UAE and the second most-watched league in India, will be played between Jan. 19 and Feb. 18, 2024, it was announced on Wednesday.

The full schedule will be unveiled soon. For the second consecutive year, six teams — Abu Dhabi Knight Riders, Desert Vipers, Dubai Capitals, Gulf Giants, MI Emirates and Sharjah Warriors — will compete for the DP World ILT20 trophy in a 34-match format. There will be 30 group games and four playoffs including the final.

The James Vince-led Gulf Giants are the defending champions having defeated the Desert Vipers by seven wickets in the inaugural season’s final at a packed Dubai International Stadium.

Earlier this week, the league unveiled a star-studded lineup of new signings for season two. The final step for the six franchises to complete their squads is to sign additional players from the UAE.

Cricket’s uneasy relationship with the environment

Updated 25 min 16 sec ago

Cricket’s uneasy relationship with the environment

  • Sport is not only a victim of climate change but also a contributor to it
  • Anyone who attended World Cup matches in Delhi, as did your columnist, cannot have failed to have noticed or been affected by the appalling air quality

Fallout from the 2023 World Cup continues. Some Indians have been enraged by pictures of an Australian player resting his leg on the trophy, labeling him disrespectful.

One supporter has lodged an official complaint to high level authorities calling for the player to be banned from playing in India. Needless to say, Australians have retorted by accusing Indians of being poor losers.

On the Indian cricket analysis sites which I access, reactions to India’s loss have ranged from highly emotional — one bizarrely suggesting a link between change of sponsor and failure to win trophies — to a recognition that Australia’s tactical plan was perfectly executed.

A form of redemption for India has come in the shape of winning the first two of five matches in a T20 series with Australia in India. This has come hard on the heels of the World Cup final and features few of the players who competed in that match.

Currently, New Zealand are playing a two-match test series against Bangladesh, England embark on a ODI and T20 series in the West Indies on Sunday, Pakistan travel to Australia for three tests before going to New Zealand, India will visit South Africa, all before the end of the year. Women’s cricket also has a busy schedule. England visit India, as do Australia, while Pakistan go to New Zealand and Bangladesh to South Africa in the next four weeks.

Those who wish to see the game grow and expand will be heartened by these schedules. Others are not so sure. In England, the Professional Cricketers’ Association has reacted to the 2024 domestic schedule as “unrelenting, involving dangerous travel windows and a feeling from the player body that the game is prioritizing commercial revenue over player welfare.”

Australia’s all-conquering captain, Pat Cummins, puts a different spin on it in saying that “realistically, the word rest and rotated gets thrown around a lot but you never miss a test if you are fully fit.”

Perhaps there is a different perspective on life in the domestic and international circuits.

There is another aspect to the substantial growth that has taken place in cricket, which is driven by the different formats and the expansion of women’s cricket.

As COP28 opens in the UAE, the England and Wales Cricket Board confirmed on Monday it is joining the UN Sports for Climate Action Framework. It is the first national cricketing governing body to do so and joins two English county clubs, Gloucestershire and Surrey. Marylebone Cricket Club has also signed up, along with Melbourne Cricket Club and the ILT20 franchise, Desert Vipers.

Signatories are encouraged to embed environmental thinking into their decision-making, along with targets of halving greenhouse emissions by 2030 and reaching net zero by 2040.

Prima facie, the list of signatories within cricket is short. The sport is not only a victim of climate change but also a contributor. Examples of measures taken to reduce contribution by those who have signed up include reducing direct emissions, especially electricity consumption, improving operational processes and increasing amounts of recycling.

At Surrey, one stand has had solar panels installed on the rooftop and measures to reduce the significant proportion of emissions generated by external sources have been introduced. Similar concerns have been addressed at Edgbaston, Birmingham, which has no direct metro stop. The number of car parking spaces at the ground has been reduced and for big match days a shuttle bus service has been initiated. Changing people’s habits in this way is not an easy task.

At the recreational level, the ECB has made funding available to encourage water management and energy saving, including the use of electric mowers and rollers. It introduced extreme heat regulations after such conditions occurred in 2022, while assistance is available to alleviate the impact of drought, storms and floods, for which reparations have become increasingly costly.

Air quality is another issue. Anyone who attended World Cup matches in Delhi, as did your columnist, cannot have failed to have noticed or been affected by the appalling air quality. Training was canceled for the Sri Lankan and Bangladesh teams on Nov. 5 and there was talk of the match being canceled.

On match day, Delhi’s air quality index exceeded 400, officially hazardous. A representative of the International Cricket Council said it was monitoring the situation. Separately, India’s captain and England’s Joe Root expressed public concerns. Root commented that in Mumbai it was difficult to “get your breath.” A former West Indian captain, Daren Ganga has urged administrators to adopt measures to ensure player protection. He also called on them to be more explicitly concerned about the game’s environmental footprint.

Unless the ICC, the game’s governing body, displays leadership in this respect, addressing the issues will be left to local initiatives. There is no systematic approach across cricket. Indeed, there are actions which pull in the other direction. One is the amount of air travel generated by international cricket.

In this respect, it has been eye-opening to learn about the strategy of the Desert Vipers in the DP World ILT20. The franchise is the only one not owned by Indian interests. Its owners and leaders have placed sustainability at the heart of its operations. They seek to promote sustainability within the UAE and the broader cricketing community. Their motivation derives from awareness of climate change, pollution and natural resource depletion.

In 2018, the Climate Coalition reported that cricket would be the pitch sport most impacted by climate change. Five years on more evidence of this is apparent. As such, cricket has the potential, some would say responsibility, to acknowledge the relationship between environmental, social, economic and technological factors and address them for the long-term viability of the game. Slowly, very slowly, in the face of powerful, dissenting voices, parts of cricket’s ecosystem are waking up.

‘I want to score goals all the time,’ says Al-Hilal’s Aleksandar Mitrovic

Al-Hilal's on-form Serbian forward Aleksandar Mitrovic. (SPL)
Updated 30 November 2023

‘I want to score goals all the time,’ says Al-Hilal’s Aleksandar Mitrovic

  • The only player ahead of the Serbian striker in the Roshn Saudi League scoring charts is Al-Nassr superstar Cristiano Ronaldo
  • Mitrovic looking to maintain goal-scoring streak in the season’s first Riyadh derby on Friday

RIYADH: Al-Hilal’s deadly striker Aleksandar Mitrovic is out to bring down Al-Nassr in the Roshn Saudi League’s first Riyadh derby of the season on Friday. 

Mitrovic has scored 11 goals in 12 games since signing from Fulham in the summer — and was recently dubbed “merciless” by Al-Hilal manager Jorge Jesus.

Only Al-Nassr superstar Cristiano Ronaldo is ahead of the Serbian striker in the Saudi top flight’s scoring tables, with 15 goals in 13 league games to date during this campaign.

Al-Hilal will go into Friday night’s derby at the King Fahd International Stadium four points ahead of their Riyadh rivals. However, “merciless Mitrovic” has vowed to keep on the goal-hunting trail. 

“I want to score goals all the time and I’ve been lucky to score a lot of goals so far,” he said. “Hopefully there are more to come. It’s my job to score goals. It’s what I do and what I love to do.

“Scoring a goal is something every striker dreams of and every striker wants that feeling, that adrenaline of scoring game by game,” Mitrovic added. “The more you score, the better you feel, and I have scored a lot — I could have scored more, though. It can always be better. There are still a lot of games to play, and big games, such as the derby, so hopefully that’ll include a lot of goals.”

The powerful No. 9 has netted 18 goals in 19 games for Al-Hilal across all competitions this season — the exact same tally as Al-Nassr rival Ronaldo. Mitrovic’s phenomenal scoring record includes two hat-tricks — his memorable Roshn Saudi League treble in the 4-3 triumph over Karim Benzema’s Al-Ittihad, and in the 6-0 win against Mumbai City in the AFC Champions League.

Each goal has been greeted with deafening chants of “Mitro’s on fire,” to the tune of Eurodance classic “Freed From Desire,” from the adoring Al-Hilal fans. Mitrovic is not only delighted that the Al-Hilal faithful have adopted the song from his time in England but is also overjoyed to hear it as often as possible.

“I didn’t expect that but it’s amazing, to be honest — every game it’s a full stadium and I score goals and you can hear a big roar,” he said. “Of course, I like the song. It’s something (I’ve had) since Newcastle and it’s something that every time I score the people sing, so it’s something I’ve gotten used to. I’m glad they’ve adopted this here and always glad to hear it.”

The Riyadh derby between current Roshn Saudi League leaders Al-Hilal and second-placed Al-Nassr kicks off at 9 p.m. Saudi time on Friday. The match at the 68,000-capacity King Fadh International Stadium is sold out, while millions will watch the game as it is broadcast across the globe.

Local favorite Shelbayh upsets Mickelsen at Next Gen ATP Finals in Jeddah

Abdullah Shelbayh of Jordan during his win over Alex Michelsen at the Next Gen ATP Finals in Jeddah. (ATP Tour)
Updated 30 November 2023

Local favorite Shelbayh upsets Mickelsen at Next Gen ATP Finals in Jeddah

  • ‘The crowd was one of the main reasons I won today’: 20-year-old Jordanian
  • Saudi Arabia’s 1st pro tennis event taking place at King Abdullah Sports City

JEDDAH: Jordan’s Abdullah Shelbayh captured the headlines on day two of the Next Gen ATP Finals presented by NEOM with a victory against Alex Michelsen in front of a supportive crowd in Jeddah.

The top seed Arthur Fils and Hamad Medjedovic remain unbeaten to hold the lead position in the green and red groups, while Dominic Stricker righted his loss yesterday with a dominant performance.

Shelbayh thrilled the crowd at King Abdullah Sports City with his shot making, showcasing his immense potential on Wednesday night. The 20-year-old downed Michelsen 4-2, 1-4, 4-0, 4-0 to pick up his fourth Top 100 win.

After the match, he said: “Having the opportunity to play here now to finish the year, I couldn’t ask for a better end to the year.

“I appreciate all the support throughout the week that I’ve been receiving already, of course throughout the year, and from the Arab world especially.”

Dominic Stricker soared to victory in the fastest match in tournament history. After a disappointing start to his Next Gen ATP Finals presented by NEOM campaign, Stricker wasted little time bouncing back on Wednesday in Jeddah. The third-seeded Swiss player eased past Italian Luca Nardi 4-1, 4-1, 4-2 with a clean-hitting performance in only 54 minutes.

In an on-court interview, Stricker said: “We had a long discussion yesterday evening about how to do it today. I think it was really good that we talked a lot after what maybe wasn’t my best performance.

“Now to come out today like that, I think nobody expected that. I’m just happy that I did it and now I’m going to try my best to recover for the third group match.”

Frenchman Fils continued to demonstrate his top-seed credentials when he overcame Flavio Cobolli 4-1, 4-2, 4-2 in 59 minutes. He came out firing in his first Lexus ATP Head2Head meeting with the Italian, out-maneuvering Cobolli to improve to 2-0 in Green Group play.

Fils said: “I played very nice today. I served very good, and I was moving well on the court, so I am very happy about it. Tomorrow, I have a good match against a great opponent. He already beat me once this year, so let’s what I can do.”

In the final match of the day, Medjedovic overcame the Red Group top seed Luca Van Assche in four sets, 4-2, 2-4, 4-3, 4-1. The Serbian will now face fan favorite Shelbayh in the final match of the group stage.

Magic win eighth in a row while Embiid ill as Sixers fall

Updated 30 November 2023

Magic win eighth in a row while Embiid ill as Sixers fall

  • Ignited by their star Serbian center’s triple double, Denver improved the NBA’s best home record to 9-0 and reached 13-6 overall
  • The Phoenix Suns saw a seven-game win streak snapped while NBA-worst Detroit lost their 15th game in a row

WASHINGTON: German forward Franz Wagner’s 31-point performance sparked Orlando to an eighth consecutive victory on Wednesday, ripping Washington 139-120 to move one game behind NBA overall leader Boston.

The Magic connected on 60.7 percent of their shots in improving to 13-5 and matching Milwaukee for second in the Eastern Conference behind the Celtics (14-4).

“We believe we can win every day and we want to play up to our standards,” Wagner said after achieving back-to-back 30-point games for the first time in his NBA career.

“It’s a lot of fun. We would like to keep that going.”

Orlando can match the club’s record win streak by beating the Wizards again on Friday.

“It would be awesome,” Wagner said. “But we’ve still got one to go so we’ve got to lock in on that.”

Magic coach Jamahl Mosley agreed, saying: “I’m a ‘one game at a time’ guy. We’ll enjoy this one but we’ve got to get to work tomorrow.”

Cole Anthony came off the bench to add 25 points and Jalen Suggs scored a season-high 22 points for Orlando.

But forward Paolo Banchero, last season’s NBA Rookie of the Year, suffered an ankle sprain and had only six points.

“We’ve got a young team,” Wagner said. “We’re just a tight-knit group. We’ve got a lot of characters and we just enjoy playing with each other.”

The Philadelphia 76ers also could have reached 13-5 but with NBA Most Valuable Player Joel Embiid out with illness, the Sixers lost 124-114 at New Orleans.

Cameroonian seven-footer Embiid, the NBA’s top scorer with 32.0 points a game, was dearly missed as Pelicans star forward Zion Williamson struck for 33 points, eight rebounds, six assists and three steals. He shot 11-of-12 from the floor and the free throw line.

Pelicans guard C.J. McCollum scored 20 points in his return after missing more than three weeks with a collapsed lung and fractured rib.

Tyrese Maxey scored 33 points for the 76ers in a losing cause.

At Denver, two-time NBA MVP Nikola Jokic struck for 32 points, 15 assists and 10 rebounds while Michael Porter Jr. added 30 points, 10 rebounds and five assists to power the defending champion Nuggets over visiting Houston 134-124.

Ignited by their star Serbian center’s triple double, Denver improved the NBA’s best home record to 9-0 and reached 13-6 overall, moving into second place in the Western Conference only a game behind Minnesota (13-4).

“We play good at home,” Porter said. “There’s good energy in the building and we like to play at the crib. We’ve got to bring the same energy on the road.”

The Phoenix Suns saw a seven-game win streak snapped while NBA-worst Detroit lost their 15th game in a row.

Toronto got 23 points from Scottie Barnes and 22 from Pascal Siakam to beat visiting Phoenix 112-105.

The Raptors led 108-105 when Devin Booker missed a tying three-pointer with 50 seconds remaining.

German Dennis Schroder hit a jumper for Toronto and Kevin Durant — who scored a game-high 30 points — then missed a three-pointer for Phoenix. Barnes added two final free throws to seal the Raptors’ triumph.

At Detroit, D’Angelo Russell had game-highs of 35 points and nine assists to lead the Los Angeles Lakers over the Pistons 133-107. Detroit drop to 2-16.

Anthony Davis added 28 points and a game-high 16 rebounds for the Lakers while LeBron James, coming off the most lopsided loss of his 21-year career at Philadelphia on Monday, added 25 points and eight rebounds.

At Sacramento, Kawhi Leonard scored 34 points and James Harden scored 17 of his 26 points in the first quarter as the Los Angeles Clippers routed the host Kings 131-117.

De’Aaron Fox scored 40 points in a losing cause while Paul George netted 19 for the Clippers.

IOC lines up French Alps to host 2030 Winter Olympics and Salt Lake City for 2034 edition

Updated 30 November 2023

IOC lines up French Alps to host 2030 Winter Olympics and Salt Lake City for 2034 edition

  • France’s partial win Wednesday is a full victory for its national Olympic committee leader David Lappartient, the president of cycling’s governing body
  • The modern way of picking Olympic hosts leaves IOC members to rubber stamp a single option presented by the executive board chaired by Bach

NEW YORK: Salt Lake City being preferred as a shoo-in to host the 2034 Winter Olympics was expected. The surprise was the IOC favoring the French Alps bid for the 2030 edition on Wednesday.

Aiming to finalize back-to-back Winter Games hosts next year, the International Olympic Committee executive board has decided to enter exclusive talks with Olympic officials in France and the US for Salt Lake City.

Salt Lake was alone in the 2034 race to bring the games back to Utah, which hosted the 2002 Winter Games, and the American bid’s support from all levels of government up to President Joe Biden was praised Wednesday.

“He would guarantee all the expenses,” said IOC member Karl Stoss, who chaired the Olympics panel assessing potential candidates, adding “and they stand really in a strong, strong status behind these games.”

A French bid uniting the snowy Alps region and the French Riviera resort Nice came together only in the past few months to compete with Sweden and Switzerland for the IOC’s support.

The IOC also has now pointed the Swiss bid toward the 2038 Olympics with “privileged dialogue” status.

By mapping out a Winter Olympics future for almost two decades, the next opportunity for Asia to host looks to be in 2042 — perhaps in Sapporo, Japan or even Saudi Arabia, which is creating the Trojena ski resort to stage the 2029 Asian Winter Games.

The IOC last month aimed to make a double award picking the 2030 and 2034 hosts together in July when about 100 members meet in Paris on the eve of the Summer Games.

France’s partial win Wednesday is a full victory for its national Olympic committee leader David Lappartient, the president of cycling’s governing body.

Lappartient worked to build close ties with IOC President Thomas Bach even before last year when he became one of the about 100 IOC members.

It would be the fourth time France has hosted a Winter Olympics, after Chamonix in 1924, Grenoble in 1968 and Albertville in 1992.

The modern way of picking Olympic hosts leaves IOC members to rubber stamp a single option presented by the executive board chaired by Bach.

The 2030 Winter Games is barely six years away, already making it the latest Olympic hosting decision taken in recent decades. A decision next July would be just over 5½ years before the scheduled opening ceremony.

Longtime 2030 favorite Sapporo faded then was formally withdrawn last month as Japan’s feeling for the Olympics soured amid investigations of bribery linked to preparing the Summer Games in Tokyo held in 2021.

Vancouver, the 2010 Winter Games host, also dropped out and Salt Lake City’s focus switched to 2034. That was to avoid a clash for the United States hosting back-to-back Olympics after the 2028 Los Angeles Summer Games.

With the IOC seeming to have few options in January, Swedish Olympic officials were approached about making a ninth bid for the Winter Games. The most recent loss was with Stockholm in 2019 when IOC members chose Italy’s Milan-Cortina d’Ampezzo for 2026.

That Stockholm bid was revived but an apparent caution in moving forward quickly left the door open for bids from France and Switzerland closer to the IOC’s home in Lausanne.

“I am incredibly disappointed,” Swedish bid leader Hans von Uthmann said in a statement. “We had a strong concept to stage the most sustainable games of all time, but are now not getting the chance to showcase that vision to the world.”

The IOC has declining options for Winter Games hosts because of climate change.

The Olympic body estimates only 15 countries on three continents can meet the criteria of having at least 80 percent of existing venues for snow sports and a “climate-reliable” outlook to stage events in future decades.

A longer-term IOC plan is a rotation policy for a small pool of regular Winter Games hosts, like Salt Lake City.

“For more than a decade, our state and community leaders have united toward this goal,” said Fraser Bullock, president and CEO of this Salt Lake City bid and also a senior official on the 2002 project.

The last time Salt Lake pursued the Olympics the city got caught in a bribery scandal that nearly derailed plans for those 2002 Winter Games and led to several IOC members being expelled and resigning.

The bid committee doled out $1 million in cash, scholarships, medical care, gifts and other favors to IOC members and their families. That included ski trips, NBA tickets, plastic surgery, knee replacements, violins and housing and salary for children of IOC members, according to report by an ethics panel.

Wide-ranging campaign reforms included stopping IOC voters from visiting bid candidates. Later, vote-buying scandals implicating back-to-back Summer Games hosts Rio de Janeiro and Tokyo led to further changes.

The 2026 Olympics were the last to have a traditional contested vote in 2019. The next Winter Games will be spread across northern Italy, focused on the city of Milan and ski resort Cortina d’Ampezzo, the 1956 Olympics host.

Those games are set to use an ice sliding track in neighboring Switzerland or Austria because Italy does not have a functioning venue.

That fits with the IOC’s modern insistence on Olympic hosts using existing or temporary venues to avoid construction costs that typically run over budget.

The reported $51 billion in spending by Russia on the 2014 Sochi Winter Games — including building new roads, a railway and much of a ski resort — scared off some potential bidders in Europe and forced another rethink of Olympic campaigning and hosting.